Meeting report: ACB-2011 Shanghai – “Biotechnology for Better Life”

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At the 9th APBioChEC (Nov. 24–28, 2009, Kobe, Japan), it was announced that the Asia Pacific Biochemical Engineering Conference (APBioChEC) would be transformed into the Asian Congress on Biotechnology (ACB) to facilitate an enlarged scope under the newly founded Asian Federation of Biotechnology (AFOB) [1].

This development was inspired by similar organizations, for example, the European Federation of Biotechnology (EFB) and the European Congress on Biotechnology (ECB). Hence, in light of this new development, the 1st Asian Congress on Biotechnology (ACB-2011, http://www.acb-2011.org) was held in Shanghai, China, from May 11–15, 2011, chaired by Prof. Jian-Jiang Zhong (Shanghai Jiaotong University, China) and Prof. Jian-He Xu (East China University of Science and Technology, China), and attracted 849 registered delegates from 35 different countries and regions.

“Biotechnology for Better Life”

The theme of ACB-2011 was “Biotechnology for Better Life”. Our world is facing various challenges including environmental deterioration, energy crisis, shortage of natural resources, threats in public health and life, and imbalances in social and economic development. Biotechnology is expected to play an important role in addressing those problems and to meet other emerging needs of our society. ACB-2011 aims to provide a distinguished forum for biotechnologists and biochemical engineers from Asia and other regions of the world to exchange ideas and findings in biotechnology research and development, to share their experiences in advancing biotechnological development or business venture, and to further research and business cooperation. In addition to featuring world renowned scientists, ACB-2011 also provides an avenue for aspiring young scientists and engineers from Asian countries to develop their craft.

... an avenue for young scientists/engineers to develop ...

A total of 308 high-quality lectures, including 5 plenary lectures, 217 invited presentations from 10 sessions, 86 oral presentations from 3 special forums were delivered at this conference. In addition, 455 selected posters were presented from the submissions. In addition to this special issue of Biotechnology Journal, all the accepted full papers have been categorized according to their topics and will be published in five other international journals, including Biotechnology Advances, Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology, Process Biochemistry, Frontiers of Chemical Science and Engineering and Interdisciplinary Sciences-Computational Life Sciences.

Plenary lectures

Prof. Zi-xin Deng (Shanghai Jiaotong University, China), introduced the revival of the antibiotics legend and recent progress in novel antibiotic discovery. Three major paths for discovery of antibiotics were discussed: (i) natural screening; (ii) pathway engineering and combinatorial biosynthesis; and (iii) synthetic biology. Our knowledge of the natural products' biosynthetic mechanisms and advances in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, metabolic engineering and synthetic biology are now providing better opportunities to generate novel compounds or optimal derivatives. Prof. Deng talked about his latest work on development of new antibiotics using tools from synthetic biology.

Prof. Teruyuki Nagamune (University of Tokyo, Japan), presented biomolecular engineering for in situ analysis and control of cellular functions by light and bio-imaging. Prof. Nagamune highlighted the application of bio-imaging for nano- and analytical biotechnology in the 21st century, such as nano-diagnostics, nano-pharmaceuticals, and reconstructive surgery.

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Prof. Daniel I.C. Wang (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA), introduced glycoprotein glycosylation, which is a current challenge in the production of biopharmaceuticals. Prof. Wang also discussed glycoform heterogeneity and how to overcome this problem by process improvements and genetic manipulations for achieving greater glycoform quality.

Prof. Jens Nielsen (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden), discussed yeast as a platform cell factory in future biorefineries due to yeast's many advantages such as its general acceptance in industry, its robustness towards contaminations, its high alcohol and low pH tolerance, and a large number of available molecular biology techniques and omics tools for this organism. Prof. Nielsen also introduced a number of synthetic biology and systems biology tools for advancing the design and engineering of novel, efficient yeast biocatalysts to produce a range of different products (i.e., novel fuels and chemicals). See [2] for a review on yeast metabolic engineering by Prof. Nielsen.

Prof. Jung-Keug Park (Dongguk University, Korea), presented a novel field of interdisciplinary science “wave biotechnology” and its related “industry wave bioindustry”. Prof. Park discussed the current status of research and development in wave biotechnology, and showed some on-going work in stem cell differentiation using electromagnetic and sonic wave to stimulate neural cells.

Oral and poster presentations

From the second day to the fifth day of the conference, 308 oral presentations including 222 invited lectures took place in 10 scientific sessions on various topics:

(i) Bioprocess Engineering,

(ii) Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology,

(iii) Enzyme and Protein Engineering,

(iv) Nano- and Analytical Biotechnology,

(v) Biorefinery, Biofuels and Bioproducts,

(vi) Extremophiles and Marine Biotechnology,

(vii) Agricultural and Food Biotechnology,

(viii) Environmental Biotechnology,

(ix) Pharmaceutical and Medical Biotechnology,

(x) Stem Cells, Tissue Engineering, and Biomaterials.

In addition, there were three special forums focused on current biotechnology R&D and business for biotechnologists and biochemical engineers in Asia, including:

(i) Asian Bioindustry & Bioeconomy Forum,

(ii) Young Scientists & Students (YSS) Forum,

(iii) ISBBE Forum-The 5th International Symposium and Exhibition on Bioprocess & Bioproduct Engineering.

Poster sessions were held twice on each of the three days with a total of 455 posters. Moreover, a number of well-established companies related to biotechnology business, well-known universities and institutes took part in the ACB-2011 exhibition, alongside traditionally strong participation from academia.

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At the closing ceremony, Prof. Zhong, on behalf of the organizing committee of ACB-2011, presented key information about the conference (background, aims, important dates, participant information, etc.), delivered the closing remarks and expressed sincere thanks to all the participants (co-organizers, sponsors, exhibitors, delegates and participants, and volunteers) of ACB-2011 for their wonderful support, active participation and collegial cooperation.

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In summary, ACB-2011 had exciting contributions from both academics and industry. The work presented at the conference showed that there is real promise for a sustainable future through the concept of “biotechnology for better life”. The conference offered more than 70 young scientists and graduate students the great opportunity to present their exciting research projects, and to learn funding opportunities for their future plans. These students are afterall, the future for sustainable development and successful performance of both industry and academia. Overall ACB-2011 provided an excellent opportunity for young scientist and engineers to further develop their career. Hence, we believe that ACB-2011 contributed to a sound beginning for the long-term success of AFOB – the biggest family of biotechnologist in Asia.

sincere thanks to all for their support, participation and cooperation

As we bid farewell to one successful event, we look forward to the next: the 2nd Asian Congress on Biotechnology will be held in December 2013 in New Delhi, India, as announced by Prof. Virendra S. Bisaria (Indian Institute of Technology, India) at the closing ceremony. Prior to that, the 15th International Biotechnology Symposium and Exhibition (IBS-2012) will be held in September 2012 in Daegu, Korea, as introduced by Prof. Tai Hyun Park (Seoul National University, Korea). We hope to see you all in Daegu and New Delhi!

Congress website:

www.acb-2011.org

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